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August 10, 2010 12:56 PM

Meet Your New BP Fund Trustees

Posted by Brian Baxter

Embattled British oil giant BP has named two lawyers to serve as trustees of a planned $20 billion compensation fund for victims of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sibling publication The National Law Journal reports that former federal judge John Martin, Jr., and law school dean Kent Syverud are the two people who have been chosen to oversee the trust that will administer the mammoth account.

Syverud is the dean of the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, while Martin, who served as a judge for the U.S. district court in the Southern District of New York from 1990 to 2003, is currently a name partner at New York firm Martin & Obermaier. (Martin was previously of counsel with Debevoise & Plimpton.)

Martin told The NLJ that he came to the trustee role after conversations with BP's outside lawyers Jamie Gorelick and William Perlstein of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and Robert Ott of Arnold & Porter. As a judge, The NLJ notes that Martin oversaw litigation involving insurance coverage after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Syverud once worked at Wilmer and served as a dean of Vanderbilt University Law School from 1997 to 2005. He also clerked for former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor and studied class actions and other forms of complex civil litigation before entering academia.

Former Kaye Scholer partner Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration's pay czar and founder and name partner of Washington, D.C.'s Feinberg Rozen, will serve as chief administrator for the fund. Feinberg, who oversaw the $7 billion government fund for families of 9/11 victims, has spoken publicly about his criteria for evaluating oil spill claims.

BP announced in a statement on Monday that it has already made its first $3 billion deposit into the fund. An additional $2 billion deposit is due before the end of the year, with $1.25 billion deposits coming on a quarterly basis after that until the total reaches $20 billion.

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